U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - United Arab Emirates
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||30 January 1998|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - United Arab Emirates, 30 January 1998, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa1c34.html [accessed 24 July 2014]|
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, January 30, 1998.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATESThe United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven Emirates established in 1971. None has any democratically elected institutions or political parties. Each emirate retains control over its own oil and mineral wealth and some aspects of defense and internal security, although the Federal Government asserts primacy in most matters of law and government. Traditional rule in the emirates has generally been patriarchal, with political allegiance defined in terms of loyalty to the tribal leaders. Political leaders in the emirates are not elected, but citizens may express their concerns directly to their leaders via traditional mechanisms, such as the open majlis, or council. In accordance with the 1971 Constitution, the seven emirate rulers constitute a Federal Supreme Council, the highest legislative and executive body. The Council selects a President and Vice President from its membership; the President in turn appoints the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The Constitution provides that the Council meets annually, although individual leaders meet frequently in more traditional settings. The Cabinet manages the Federation on a day-to-day basis. The judiciary generally is independent, but its decisions are subject to review by the political leadership. Each emirate maintains its own police force, but only the Federal Government and the Emirate of Dubai have independent internal security organizations. The UAE has a free market economy based on oil and gas production, trade, and light manufacturing. The Government owns the majority share of the petroleum production enterprise in the largest emirate, Abu Dhabi. The Emirate of Dubai is likewise an oil producer, as well as a growing financial and commercial center in the Gulf. The remaining five emirates have negligible petroleum or other resources and therefore depend in varying degrees on federal government subsidies, particularly for basic services such as health care, electricity, water, and education. The economy provides citizens with a high per capita income, but it is heavily dependent on foreign workers, who comprise at least 80 percent of the general population. The Government continued to restrict human rights in a number of areas; e.g., denial of the right of citizens to change their government, the right to a speedy trial, and limitations on the freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, and worker rights. Women continue to make progress in education and in the work force, but some types of discrimination persist. The press continued to avoid direct criticism of the Government and exercised self-censorship.